ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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Municipal workers suspected of taking bribes to allow illegal waste dumps

Four suspects from Ramat Hasharon and Taibe taken for questioning by fraud detectives, with further arrests said possible

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

One of 12 vehicles seized by the Environmental Protection Ministry's Green Police and the Tel Aviv District fraud unit on suspicion that they were used for the illegal dumping of building waste in Ramat Hasharon, central Israel, August 8, 2023 (Green Police)
One of 12 vehicles seized by the Environmental Protection Ministry's Green Police and the Tel Aviv District fraud unit on suspicion that they were used for the illegal dumping of building waste in Ramat Hasharon, central Israel, August 8, 2023 (Green Police)

As part of a growing effort to stop the illegal dumping of building waste, the Environmental Protection Ministry’s Green Police and the Tel Aviv District fraud unit on Tuesday detained four suspects for questioning, including two employees of the Ramat Hasharon municipality.

The authorities suspect that several individuals at the Ramat Hasharon council took money in return for allowing the illegal dumping, and said more people could be detained.

Twelve trucks and other mechanical vehicles were seized during an operation that began undercover.

According to a statement, the truck drivers were seen dumping the building waste.

On Tuesday, the Green Police, fraud squad detectives and border police raided the suspects’ homes in Ramat Hasharon and the central Arab city of Taibe to conduct searches.

Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman, who has prioritized a clampdown on illegal dumping of construction waste, is advancing legislation through the Knesset’s Interior and Environmental Protection Committee to equip construction waste removal trucks with tracking devices to ensure that they reach authorized landfill sites before dumping building waste.

During a committee meeting in June, Environmental Protection Ministry Director General Guy Samet, said that 1.1 million tons of construction waste were dumped every year in open areas, compared with around 6.2 million tons at regulated sites.

Truck drivers are known to leave waste at pirate sites either because the sites are closer than the authorized ones, or to avoid having to pay the fees at the legal landfill locations.

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